Size: 464 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Stand Alone or Series: 1st in Dustlands Trilogy
Source: Amazon Vine
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
I got a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program. This book is the first in a planned trilogy called The Dustlands. This is a really great book and I really enjoyed it. It is kind of like Mad Max meets Hunger Games. The only thing that I didn’t totally like was the style it was written in.
Saba lives at Silverlake with her twin brother Lugh, her little sister Emmi and her father. When men come, kill her father, and kidnap Lugh, Saba will stop at nothing to get Lugh back. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic earth where everything is a desert and people live nomad like.
I loved a lot of things about this story. Saba is a tough, tough girl and it is amazing to watch her go into berserker rages and defeat her enemies against impossible odds. She is not perfect though, she readily admits many times that she hates her younger sister Emmi (mainly because Emmi’s birth killed her mother). The story is seen solely through Saba’s eyes so everyone we meet is colored by her perspective. Saba is selfish and determined; somehow though you have to admire her strength and the way she grows throughout the story.
The world here is fantastic; you’ve got a grungy desert world that really reminds of Mad Max. There are traces of the Wreckers (slang for old human civilization). Saba ends up spending a good amount of her time fighting in Cage Matches (hence the similarity with Hunger Games). Don’t compare Saba with Katniss though; Saba is ten times tougher and ten times as mean.
The closeness of Saba and her twin really propels the story. Everything Saba does she does to save Lugh; this is intriguing but you can’t help but feel bad for Emmi who is left in the dust. As the story continues Saba develops a love interest that also helps to propel the story. In the beginning this looks like Saba taking off on a lonely quest to save her brother, by the end Saba has learned the value of friendship and letting other people become part of her life.
Now I have to address the only about this book that I didn’t like; the writing style. There are no chapters, there isn’t much punctuation (outside of periods and the occasional comma), and there is a lot of slang. The whole thing is written from Saba’s perspective so there is a lot, a lot of slang and it makes the story hard to read at times. Also the lack of quotation marks when people speak makes things a bit confusing too. It didn’t stop me from barreling through the story (I read it in two days) but it was kind of obnoxious.
I think I understand why the story was written this way. Dropping the majority of punctuation lends the story a sort of starkness that reflects the desert world well, the story also seems more immediate. The writing style does suck the reader in and make you read line after line a bit faster since you don’t take the mental pauses you normally would with full punctuation. So I think the writing style was done for a reason. I still would have at least liked some quote marks to make it easier to know when people were speaking.
The story wraps up very nicely ,most of the loose ends are tied up and the characters are starting off in a new direction at the end of the book. I was happy it was such a complete story and I am excited to see what the next book in this series holds for us.
Overall I really, really loved this book. If only it had had a bit more punctuation it would have been perfect. I am all for trying experimental writing methods if it enhances the story, but in this case I think the author went a little too stark on the punctuation. I loved Saba and her friends with all their crazy flaws. Saba is one tough cookie and I really enjoyed reading about her and watching her grow. I loved the world Young has created too. I absolutely cannot wait to read the next installment in this series. For those of you who like this sparse form of writing in a post-apocalyptic world check out The Angels are the Reapers by Alden Bell. For some great dystopian reads check out Divergent by Veronica Roth, Matched by Ally Condie, or The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.